City agrees to small fee increases at The Bluffs

By Travis Gulbrandson

travis.gulbrandson@plaintalk.net

The Vermillion City Council voted to increase a variety of fees The Bluffs Golf Course, most of them ranging between 50 cents to $10.

“We increased where we felt we could increase, yet we did not increase the fees so much that it was going to be a scary number,” said Parks & Recreation Director Jim Goblirsch. “These rates are in line with other courses around the area, some higher, some lower.”

Items like a nine-hole green fee and the nine-hole cart rental have increases of only 50 cents, while others – such as private cart storage – increase $10.

One of the larger increases was a season pass for two parents and one child, which moved up from $709 to $724, and from $739 to $754 for families with more than two children.

The action was taken at the city council’s regular meeting Monday night, and aims to help solve what a council agenda memo terms “the financial challenge” at the golf course.

“Spring was a little bit hard for the golf course as far as weather concerns,” Goblirsch said.

Later-than-normal snowfall resulted in fewer USD students utilizing the course.

“We’re down 38 memberships this year, but of those 38 memberships, 35 of those are college memberships,” Goblirsch said. “We’re really only down a few non-college memberships at this time.”

According to the council memo, a total of 252 memberships were sold for 2013, 20 juniors, 57 university, 110 adult and 65 family.

“Overall, the total rounds of golf in 2013 were 19,689 compared to 22,639 rounds in 2012,” the memo said.

Council member Tom Davies asked if officials had considered having half-memberships for college students, but Kirk Hogen, PGA rep at The Bluffs, said the course already does offer some specials.

“In all honesty, the college pass is pretty reasonable,” Hogen said. “If they’re going to play golf at all, they’re going to chew up that college pass pretty quick. …

“Otherwise, we have the option of paying $10 for nine holes,” he said.

In addition to the rate increases, Goblirsch said investigations are being made on how to encourage new members and new golfers to use the facility, including an online registration system that will help grow the market.

“We feel that’s going to be a plus for us,” he said.

A new fleet of carts will be on the course this season, as well, and will be fitted with outlets for phones and GPS systems.

Goblirsch added that the Department of Parks & Recreation is working on an education program to get the word out about the course via college radio and other mediums.

The motion for the fee increase passed unanimously.

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